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Edema - Swelling of legs: Types, Causes & Symptoms of Edema

Swelling is the expansion of external or internal organs, skin tissues, or other body parts. It happens due to an increase, by degrees or in stages, of fluid in the skin or body tissues. The added fluid that has been built up can cause an accelerated gain in body mass across a brief time period, from days to weeks. Swelling is noted in either a certain part of the body or in a particular organ or it can also be seen as an overall symptom and may occur across different parts.

During summer most people experience water retention or fluid retention in their legs. This retention in the legs also known as edema of the lower legs takes place if the individuals has been standing in a particular place or is prone to walking long distances for a long period of time. Edema that spreads throughout the body is also referred to as massive edema or anasarca and is a sure pointer to a severely ill individual.

Sometimes slight edema is quite challenging to discover particularly in those who are obese or overweight. Edema that is spread throughout the body is a ready-reckoner of something gone drastically wrong. Edema that recurs for a period of time is also an indication of a continuing and advancing medical disorder.

Edema commonly falls under two categories, Pitting edema and Non-Pitting Edema. In pitting edema, when a finger is pressed on the swollen feet or area that has welled up for around 5 to 10 seconds, the area sinks in the skin and an indent is formed that takes time to come back to its original size. In the case of non pitting edema, there is no indent left nor is any kind of pit created when the swollen area is pressed with the finger.

The common causes of edema include an increased intake in sodium chloride in the diet, burns on the skin, heavy sunburn, hypoalbuminemia or too little albumin in the blood, lack of nutrition in the diet, pregnancy, medication involving steroids that are androgenic or anabolic in nature, certain hormone replacement drugs such as estrogen, non-steroidal medications etc. continuing and long suffering kidney disease, heart disorders, liver abnormalities including cirrhosis, thyroid disorders etc.

Edema - How to Relieve Swelling? Swelling medication

Mild swelling is usually treatable at home and can be easily remedied without heading to the doctor. one of the best ways to reduce swelling would be to protect the sore area and elevate it to a level higher than the body, by placing it on a couple of pillows and applying some form of cool compress to reduce the swelling. In case of massive edema, the individual would need care from a care-giver, preferably a hospital or a nursing home to further treat the swelling and the cause of it after a thorough checkup.